Religious sites must be protected

2017-02-01 06:01

MY visit to the Siva Soobramaniam and Mari Uma temples in Pietermaritzburg was safe and comfortable until I journeyed down William Street, a filthy, vermin-infested, narrow one-way “lane”.

It was to difficult find a safe parking because the road was obstructed by numerous five-ton construction vehicles that were parked haphazardly across the road, which itself was strewn with construction rubble and debris.

I slipped into a state of sadness and nostalgia when I was confronted by a monstrosity, a concrete slab that is visually bombarding, that has been built in the narrow and filthy lane that is only a few metres across from my family’s place of deep devotion and worship.

The Siva Soobramaniam and Mari Uma temples are on consecrated ground, where my family of four generations and members of the public have witnessed numerous miracles take place. The energy and positive vibrations that the powerful murthies exuded, just dissipated into the heavy laden smog enveloping the area.

The murthies were devoutly and delicately hand-crafted 120 years ago by a Mr Reddy from South India who was commissioned by the temple committee. It was a meeting place for robust religious debate, a safe haven from colonial oppression and slavery, and a venue for academics, devotees, religious and political leaders and tourists.

It is a historic religious site, accredited by Amafa, the historic building association of KwaZulu-Natal. A full investigation must be conducted by the city council and Amafa regarding future extensions in and around religious sites and the impact these will have on the environment and its devotees.

I call all academics, council members, political and religious leaders and the current temple executive committee to comment on the present situation and open up the debate on social media and in newspapers on the protection of religious sites and the extension of neighbouring buildings and their impact on the environment and its devotees in the Pietermaritzburg area.



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